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Cleveland & Columbus Take Steps to Protect Abortion Access, According to Reproductive Freedom Report

National Institute for Reproductive Health’s Local Reproductive Freedom Index Analyzes Policies of 50 Major Cities, Offers Roadmap and Tools for Advocates and Policymakers


Facing Attacks from the Trump-Pence Administration and Many State Legislatures, Cities - Even in Hostile States - Step Up to Protect Reproductive Freedom



NEW YORK – The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) today released the second iteration of the Local Reproductive Freedom Index, a first-of-its-kind initiative launched in 2017 to evaluate reproductive health, rights, and justice policies of U.S. cities representing every region of the country, including both Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. The report is a call to action outlining specific steps advocates and policymakers have taken to build stronger and healthier communities, and charts a course for cities to follow, especially as the White House and hostile state legislatures across the country continue to wage attacks on reproductive freedom.


Since taking office, the Trump-Pence administration has emboldened anti-abortion extremists, spurring a spate of state-level laws intended to eliminate abortion access and eventually overturn Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, the federal government has undermined the nation’s long-trusted Title X family planning program. Amidst the continued onslaught against reproductive health care, many cities have recognized both their responsibility and abilities to advance reproductive freedom.


“Cities across the country have expanded their vision of what is possible and are demonstrating the power and importance of electing leaders who will use their levers of power to advance reproductive freedom,” said Andrea Miller, president of NIRH. “From reducing barriers to abortion care to ending discriminatory insurance practices to advancing democracy, American cities are engaging in a national countermovement to protect and advance reproductive health, rights, and justice.”


NIRH analyzed the policies of 50 cities along 34 policy indicators, awarding each city zero to five stars based on the policies the city has in place – including policies on paid family leave, comprehensive sexuality education, and access to abortion clinics. The report demonstrates that bright spots exist even in deep red states and charts a road map for other cities to follow suit. Just two years after NIRH released its inaugural Local Index, cities across the country have expanded the vision of what’s possible and necessary to protect reproductive freedom at the local level.


According to The Local Reproductive Freedom Index, Columbus, Ohio is both a national and regional leader within an anti-choice state. Columbus received three out of five stars for expanding a pilot program offering free menstrual hygiene products at recreation centers and homeless shelters, passing an ordinance making it illegal to deny someone care based on their immigration status, and adopting a resolution opposing the Trump administration’s drastic changes to the Title X family planning program.


Cleveland received two stars after doubling down on its commitment to young people through support for pregnant and parenting youth, reproductive care in school-based centers and funding for comprehensive sexuality education.


Of the 50 U.S. cities analyzed in the Local Index, San Francisco was found to be best equipped to protect and advance reproductive freedom, followed closely by Chicago and New York; other national leaders include Boston, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. A full breakdown of each city can be found here.


“We know that radical progress starts at the local level – and now is the time for cities to do everything they can to protect their residents against harmful actions by anti-abortion lawmakers in both state and federal government,” Miller continued. “Whether a city has not yet taken any steps to advance reproductive freedom, or if it’s one of the highest-scoring cities in the Local Index, there is always more a city can do to improve the lives of its residents – and the 2019 Local Index charts the course for how to make that progress.”


“The Local Index provides useful direction on how our city can and should step up to strengthen reproductive freedom,” said Chrisse France, Executive Director of Preterm. “We are committed to working with local stakeholders and elected officials to put meaningful policies in place that make sure reproductive healthcare is safe and available. As the scorecard shows, while there’s been progress in Cleveland, we still have a long way to go and urgently need a safety ordinance to protect the city’s last abortion clinic. Patients deserve to access their healthcare safely. Residents deserve peace in their neighborhood.”


“We are grateful to NIRH for conducting this analysis so we can better understand our city’s landscape of reproductive freedom and how to improve the lives of our residents,” said Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. “We are proud of our efforts to advance reproductive freedom in Central Ohio. As the scorecard shows, progress has been made in Columbus, but the biggest challenges originate at the state and federal level. The question remains, how can local elected officials, health care providers, advocates, administrators, and individuals all work to reverse the damage of governors who will sacrifice everyone’s ability to access care all in the name of a political agenda? We’re proud of Columbus City Council for their efforts thus far, and look forward to continuing that work with this new Local Index tool to help guide the way.”


Since 2008, NIRH has provided more than five million dollars in funding and millions more in strategic and technical support for state- and local-level advocacy to 175 organizations in 43 states, including 64 localities and the District of Columbia.


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The National Institute for Reproductive Health builds power at the state and local level to change public policy, galvanize public support, and normalize women’s decisions about abortion and contraception.


Using a partnership model, NIRH provides state and local advocates with strategic guidance, hands-on support, and funding to create national change from the ground up. We form strategic partnerships with a wide range of organizations to directly impact the reproductive health and lives of women across the country. Each year, NIRH works in at least 20 states and more than a dozen localities; to date, NIRH has partnered with more than 170 reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations in 43 states and 64 localities across the country.

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